Understanding Ancient Heraldry

Heraldry used to be very common in Europe. It was introduced in England by the Normans about 1000 years ago. Other parts of Europe also learned the practice, such as Ireland and Germany. The first coats of arms of English or Norman make presented a number of designs such as animals, geometric shapes and weapons.

When heraldry was introduced in Ireland, the shields and coats of arms began showing other images such as the Tree of Life, the Serpent that stood for vitality and the salmon that stood for wisdom. People often associated the characters and terms on the herald with the family or noble.

Ancient civilizations believed that the oak tree was the tree of life, which is why there were emblems that feature a pattern similar to the rear of an oak leaf. The oak tree was also given great meaning by elders and druids in ancient times. There are sites in Ireland that are named after the commemoration of oak trees, such as Derrymore.

The inauguration involves planting deep into the earth. Druids or augurs frequently did the old practice. At present, a machine that plants into the soil is still referred to as an augur. There are still crest flags seen today that feature oak trees and snakes. There is even a town in Germany known as Augsburg, which still stemmed to the same meaning and term. Coats of arms were passed on from one generation to the next and kept the same meaning for centuries.

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